Employing the long ball (a Ryan Kalish three-run bomb and a John Andreoli solo blast) and six innings of one-run ball from 2015 Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year Ryan Williams, the Iowa Cubs (AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) defeated the Nashville Sounds (Oakland Athletics AAA affiliate) 6-2 on Field #4, while on Field #3, Michael Soto, John Nogowski, and J. P. Sportman drilled consecutive RBI singles to highlight a three-run 7th, lifting the Midland Rockhounds (A's AA affiliate) to a 6-3 victory over the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate), in Cactus League Minor League doubleheader action Saturday afternoon at the Lew Wolff Training Complex at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.
In addition to his HR, Andreoli also walked twice and stole a base.
The I-Cubs bullpen (Peralta-Edwards-Pena) retired the last seven Sounds hitters, striking out six of them.
Iowa 1B Dan Vogelbach left the game on Field #4 after being hit on the foot with a pitch.
Gioskar Amaya reached base four times (three walks and a single), Mike O'Neill collected three singles, and Mark Zagunis drove-in all three Tennessee runs (two-run double and a bases loaded HBP) in a losing cause on Field #3.
Smokies SP Jonathan Martinez and reliever (ex-starter) Daury Torrez had rough outings on Field #3, with Martinez allowing five hits (two doubles and three singles) and four walks in just 3.2 IP (78 pitches - only 60% strikes), and Torrez surrendering three runs on five hits in just one inning of work.
In Minor League Camp roster news, the Cubs have released RHRP Matt Brazis (acquired from SEA for OF Justin Ruggiano post-2014), 1B Matt Clark (ex-MIL), OF Donnie Cimino (2015 37th round draft pick - Weslyan U.), LHRP Heath Dwyer (2015 NDFA - VCU), LHRP Nick Greenwood (ex-STL), C-INF Jordan Hankins (2013 11th round draft pick - Austin Peay), RHRP Santiago Rodriguez (2013 IFA - Dominican Republic), RHSP Austyn Willis (2014 18th round draft pick - Barstow HS - Barstow, CA), and LHRP Sam Wilson (2013 8th round draft pick - Lamar CC).
Cubs Spring Training Depth Chart
Minor League Camp Rosters (updated daily)
Here are the abridged box scores from the two game (Cubs players only):
Chesny Young belted a two-run triple, singled, and walked, Jason Vosler doubled twice, singled, and scored a run, Jesse Hodges ripped an RBI double and a single, Rashad Crawford roped a line-drive RBI single, drew a walk, stole a base, and scored a run, and Jeremy Null threw five innings of two-run ball with an amazing 12/1 GO/FO, as the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) rallied from a 3-0 deficit to edge the Burlington Bees (Lo-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels) 4-3 on Field #5, and Daury Torrez threw six shutout innings with four strikeouts and an 11/2 GO/FO, Kevin Brown belted a two-run triple, singled twice, and scored a run, Varonex Cuevas doubled twice, singled, and scored a run, and Danny Lockhart roped a two-run single, walked, and scored a run, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (the Cubs Hi-A affiliate) rallied for four runs in the bottom of the 9th to tie the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels Hi-A affiliate) on Field #6, in Cactus League Minor League game action this afternoon at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.
The 66ers had just scored four runs in the top of the 9th off Myrtle Beach lefty reliever Gerardo Concepcion to take a 6-2 lead, but the Pelicans came right back with four of their own.
Both Daury Torrez and Jeremy Null had the sinker working to perfection, combining to produce a 23/3 GO/FO ratio over 11 innings of work, one of the most extraordinary groundball heavy minor league doubleheaders I have seen in some time. Torrez will join Duane Underwood, Tyler Skulina, Paul Blackburn, and Jen-Ho Tseng in the Myrtle Beach starting rotation, and Null will be part of a South Bend rotation that will also feature Jake Stinnett, Erick Leal, Trevor Clifton, James Norwood, and/or Zach Hedges (last slot still TBD)
The defensive play of the day was turned-in by South Bend CF Trey Martin, who made a spectacular diving catch in right-centerfield after a long run at full speed. Martin is a "long-strider" who can make long distances seem shorter than they really are, but what was especially impressive about Martin's play was that he dived onto his left (non-throwing) shoulder to complete the catch, the same shoulder that was surgically repaired about a year ago.
With the exception of Travis Wood and Kyle Hendricks, the Chicago Cubs left town after last night's Cactus League game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in anticipation of their MLB Opening Day game tomorrow night at Wrigley Field, leaving minor league players behind to be presented as the "Chicago Cubs" for this afternoon's MLB Cactus League finale. Most of the players assigned to the MLB game at Chase were pulled from the AAA Iowa Cubs roster, but a few came from the Tennessee and Myrtle Beach squads as well. Also, several members of the Myrtle Beach squad were moved up to the Iowa Cubs for this afternoon's Cactus League minor league game in Tempe against the Angels AAA Salt Lake City affiliate, and a number of players from the Cubs Extended Spring Training contingent filled in for the missing Pelicans at Riverview, as well as providing roster depth in the South Bend, Tennessee, and Iowa games.
Here are the abridged box scores from the two games played today at Riverview Park (Cubs players only):
Four pitchers combined to toss a four-hit shutout, as the Cubs blanked the Dodgers 2-0 in AZ Instructional League action this aftenoon at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa.
Both Daury Torrez and Jose Rosario threw three innings of shutout ball with four strikeouts, but Rosario was especially effective, retiring nine of the ten men he faced (allowing no hits and one walk as he recorded the rare three-inning save).
Danny Lockhart tripled, singled twice, and drove-in two runs, Jacob Rogers singled twice, walked, and knocked-in two runs, and four pitchers combined to toss a three-hit shutout, as the Cubs whitewashed the Rockies 7-0 in Memorial Day Extended Spring Training action this morning at Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort, east of Scottsdale, AZ.
25-year old Cuban RHP Armando Rivero ($3.1M signing bonus in March) started the game for the Cubs and threw one shutout inning, surrendering one walk while striking out one. Rivero was consistently working at 94-95 MPH with his fastball, mixing it with a hard-breaking splitter and an occasional slider. Although he only struck out one, he got seven swings & misses among his 19 pitches. Rivero was the closer for Industriales in Serie Nacional (the Cuban Major League) prior to defecting, and so I wouldn't be surprised to see him move quickly through the system once he leaves EXST. He has late-inning shut-down type stuff.
RHP James Pugliese followed Rivero to the mound and tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball (51 pitches- 38 strikes). He retired the first eight men he faced, and allowed his one hit (a single) with two outs in his fourth inning of work. He also walked one and struck out three.
Though he may not have the ceiling of a Dillon Maples or a Duane Underwood, Pugliese has been the best Cub pitcher so far at EXST (1.86 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, .155 OppBA, 9/25 BB/K, and a team-leading 70% strikes in a team-leading 29.0 IP). He will very likely join Duane Underwood, Paul Blackburn, Trey Lang, and a 5th starter TBD to form the Boise starting rotation. (RHPs Ryan McNeil and Josh Conway would have been candidates for the Hawks rotation, but both suffered season-ending elbow injuries during the course of Extended Spring Training).
It's possible that a pitcher presently at Kane County (perhaps someone like Brian Smith or Ian Dickson) could be moved down to Boise next month to get regular work as a starter, or one of the pitchers currently projected to make-up the "Big Four" at AZL Cubs (Erick Leal, Alexander Santana, Daury Torrez, or Carlos Rodriguez) could possibly yet capture the 5th rotation slot at Boise. (The AZL Cubs only need four starting pitchers, because AZL teams get every fifth day off). RHRP Loiger Padron has also recently been stretched-out as a starter at EXST in case he is needed to start or to "piggy-back" at Boise.
RHP Daury Torrez followed Pugliese to the hill and hurled three shutout innings (needing only 31 pitches to do so), allowing two harmless singles. He struck out one and did not issue any walks. Torrez is a strike-throwing machine.
LHRP Hunter Ackerman then threw an 11-pitch 1-2-3 9th (4-3, 1-3, 4-3) to wrap things up neatly.
Steve Clevenger (strained oblique rehab) saw his first EXST game action at catcher, working as the Cub backstop for the first five innings (catching Rivero and Pugliese). He also batted five times. once each in the top of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th innings. He went 1-5, with an opposite-field RBI double into the LF corner in the top of the 3rd. (He later would score on the Danny Lockhart triple). Clevenger also grounded out 4-3 and popped out to the third-baseman in foul territory, and he was called out on strikes in his final final two Plate Appearances (and was none too pleased either time).
In EXST Cubs roster news, catcher Lance Rymel has been promoted to Tennessee, and 3B Luis Acosta, OF Roberto Caro, and SS Frandy de la Rosa have been sent back to the Cubs Dominican Academy. (The DSL Cubs begin play this Friday).
The 23-year old Rymel was the Cubs 2012 28th round pick out of Rogers State U. He hit 226/353/321 in 16 EXST games (37 PA), throwing out 10-21 runners attempting to steal (48% CS), plus one PO.
Here is the abridged box score from today's game: